Personal statement tips

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Personal statement

Tell an interesting, informative story and personal story about yourself in 700-1400 words (double-spaced). Check the school’s requirements for the exact word count or page limit. Share aspects of your life that are not apparent from your transcript(s), resume, or letters of recommendation. Here are some topics to consider. Brainstorm ideas and pick the ONE with the strongest story.

• Describe a personal challenge you faced and/ or a hardship you overcame.

• Discuss your proudest personal achievement or a unique hobby that reveals who you are (climbing a mountain, inventing recipes, winning a contest, writing poems).

• Tell about how becoming consciously aware of a personal value or characteristic has changed the way you view yourself.

• Describe your passions and involvement in a project or pursuit and the ways in which it has contributed to your personal growth and goals. Do not rehash what is already on your resume. Note: describing the event should only be about 1/3 of your essay. The rest should be a reflection on how it changed you and how it shaped the person you are today.

Reviewing Your Personal Statement

• Have your draft reviewed by colleagues that will give you an honest and constructive opinion. We recommend choosing readers who DO NOT know you well (not relatives, boy/girlfriends, close friends). That way your readers are similar to admissions officers, who also do not know you.

• Coach your readers before they read your statement. Ask your readers: do they feel that they know you, your personality and/or your values better after reading it? Ask them if this essay makes them want to meet you? Ask them if the essay is boring? Is it engaging? Does it hold their attention? Is it memorable? Is it authentic?

Remember, your essay is supposed to be PERSONAL. The law school personal statement is not meant to be a statement of purpose or about what kind of research you would conduct. It is not meant to be the kind of essay you would write for a Master’s or PhD program


When writing your law school personal statement, you should reflect on two fundamental questions:

1. Why do I want to be a lawyer?
2. What are my qualifications?


  1. Don't Write in Legalese.

  2. Don't Bore the Reader. Do Be Interesting.

  3. Do Use Personal Detail. Show, Don't Tell!

  4. Do Be Concise. Don't Be Wordy.

  5. Do Address Your Weaknesses. Don't Dwell on Them.

  6. Do Vary Your Sentences and Use Transitions.

  7. Do Use Active Voice Verbs.

  8. Do Seek Multiple Opinions.

  9. Don't Wander. Do Stay Focused.

  10. Do Revise, Revise, Revise.


How to Write a Strong Introduction

1. Attention-grabbing material: Hook them with a remarkable or a life-changing experience, an anecdote, or a question that will be answered by your law school personal statement.

2. Benefits: Make your essay worth their time to read.

3. Credentials: Build ethos.

4. Direction: Tell them your thesis and structure.

How to Write a Strong Conclusion

1. Discover something new for your audience that you set up along the way.

2. The conclusion is the final chord of music resolved. It should pull together the different parts of the personal statement, rephrase main ideas, interpret the importance of the choice of topics, point towards the future, and give the cue for ending with a rhetorical flourish.


Selecting a Personal Statement Topic

  1. Make a chronology of your life

  2. Canvass those closest to you

  3. Develop personal statement topics from your chronology

Popular Personal Statement Topics

  1. Answering a question an admissions dean would logically ask

  2. A memorable academic experience

  3. Words of wisdom

5 Do’s of Personal Statement Writing

  1. Follow directions

  2. Grammar, spelling, and details

  3. Distinguish yourself

  4. Be confident and positive

  5. Start strong and end strong

5 Don’ts of Personal Statement Writing

  1. Don’t distill your resume into essay form

  2. Don’t focus on your weaknesses

  3. Don’t write colloquially

  4. Don’t focus on another person to the exclusion of yourself

  5. Don’t submit a lightly edited draft


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